Monday Morning Manager is a series that Greg Eno has been writing since 2009 on his personal blogs. It's a look back at the previous Tigers week and a look ahead at the current week. This season, he brings the series, featuring his alter ego "MMM", to Bless You Boys, every Monday morning.
Last Week: 4-1
This week: at LA Dodgers (4/8-9); at San Diego (4/11-13)
So, What Happened?
The winter of our discontent cleared enough for the Tigers to actually play five of their six games scheduled last week in Detroit---and most of them under sunny skies, to boot.
The sun shined on the team's fortunes as well. Two walk-off wins kicked off the season against the Kansas City Royals, and after a postponement, the Tigers took two of three from the Baltimore Orioles.
The opening week saw Miguel Cabrera's 2,000th career hit, some perplexing defense at shortstop and some bullpen work that will cause you to throw up in your mouth a little.
But the starting pitching was terrific, the bats were mostly present, and Torii Hunter has three home runs. The extra "i" in Torii is apparently for invincible.
Hero of the Week
The aforementioned Miggy slammed four hits on Friday in reaching his milestone in that category, and it was so appropriate that career hit number 2,000 was a home run. He is likely to crush his 400th home run late this season, which would give him approximately 2,200 hits (presuming a Cabrera-like year) and 400 homers by the age of 31.
MMM will give you a moment to let that sink in.
But for HotW, MMM is going with Torii Hunter.
Hunter, the ageless right fielder, more than made up for his dropped fly ball on Opening Day by springing out of the gate with a trio of long balls, each one majestic. All came on fastballs that Torii turned on and pulled deep into the left field seats.
His second and third homers, both against the O's, got the Tigers' offense started, although the third one came in a losing effort. Torii had five RBI on Saturday (three-run double, two-run homer) as the Tigers raced out to a 7-1 lead (more on that lead later).
MMM wasn't sure about keeping Torii in the no. 2 hole in the Tigers' revamped lineup, but after one week, MMM is ready to see Hunter there for the second year in a row. It is imperative that the 38-year-old right fielder continue to snub his nose at the calendar, especially with some degradation of power after the trade of Prince Fielder.
Honorable mentions: Cabrera, Justin Verlander (two well-pitched games yet an 0-1 record), Austin Jackson.
Goat of the Week
MMM usually names one person here, but last week's Goat was by committee.
Yes, it's that lovely and delightful bullpen.
It started with a blown save during the second game of the season by Joe Nathan, and ended with a 7-1 laugher turning into a 7-6 nail biter in the ninth inning on Saturday---of which Nathan was also a part, though he did earn the save.
The starters posted an ERA of 1.82 for the week, while the bullpen's was over 5.00.
MMM likes to be right, but not about everything. MMM wasn't the only one who thought the bullpen would be the Tigers' Achilles heel, and nothing really happened during the week to allay those fears.
Phil Coke was flat (sorry for the intended pun), Joba Chamberlain didn't evoke warm and fuzzies, neither really did Al Alburquerque and Nathan continued to bedevil the Tigers---AS a Tiger.
Yes, it's only one week, but MMM was taken aback by how quickly a team's perceived weakness reared its ugly head.
Under the Microscope
MMM can't get a handle on whether newly-acquired shortstop Alex Gonzalez will be a hero or a villain in Tigers fans' eyes.
Will the 37-year-old be the next coming of Neifi Perez, or will he be accepted as a sort of poor man's Jhonny Peralta? Speaking of which, Gonzo sure does look like Jhonny, doesn't he?
MMM is torn because Gonzo showed both sides last week.
His glove work left something to be desired, with some head-scratchers all week, including a couple of errors. Yet he also was a hitting hero on Opening Day, with a game-tying triple and a walk-off single.
MMM doesn't think the shortstop situation will look the same now as it will post-All-Star break. There's too much at stake, and let's face it---the two-headed SS of Gonzo and Andrew Romine is patchwork.
Yet MMM is placing Gonzo UtM, because he was Jekyll and Hyde enough to get Tigers fans' dander up---and it only took him one week of the new season to do so.
Upcoming: Dodgers and Padres
Don Mattingly's Los Angeles Dodgers had to play those two ridiculous "regular season" games in Australia the weekend of March 22-23, which no one on either the Dodgers or the Arizona Diamondbacks really wanted to play.
Then the team lost starting pitcher extraordinaire Clayton Kershaw to the 15-day disabled list before the real season began.
After a 4-1 start, the Big Blue dropped their first two games at Dodger Stadium to the San Francisco Giants, before recovering to win on Sunday, powered by Matt Kemp's first two homers of the season, which came just two days after Kemp's return from the DL.
Third baseman Juan Uribe, who just turned 35, is off to a 10/29 start (.345), including four doubles. Lots of people's pre-season MVP pick, Yasiel Puig, is out of the gate with a so-so 6/24 (.250, 1 HR) start.
The Tigers will not only miss Kershaw, but they won't have to face Zack Greinke, either. Greinke pitched on Sunday.
Right-hander Dan Haren is slated to pitch on Tuesday. Because of the games in Australia, and the Dodgers opening stateside on March 30, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu will make his fourth (!) start of the season on Wednesday.
Tigers starters vs. LA: Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez.
The Padres, winner of 76 games last season, are 2-4. The offense hasn't answered the bell (.189 team BA and only 36 hits in six games). But two of the pitchers the Tigers are likely to see---Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy---have surrendered just seven runs in 23 innings between them this season.
Tigers starters vs. SD: Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly, Verlander.
That's all for this week's MMM. See you next week!